How Well-Meaning People Unintentionally Hurt Those Who Grieve

How Well-Meaning People Unintentionally Hurt Those Who Grieve | RaisingArrows.netI didn’t want to write this post.  I didn’t want anyone to look at things they had said or done in the past and wonder, “Have I hurt someone who was grieving?”  But, this is an important post.  I get emails every week from people who want to help their grieving friends and family.  Many of them are afraid of saying or doing something wrong.

It’s not that grieving people are a crazy lot who hold grudges the rest of their lives based on what you do or don’t do, but there are typically two kinds of people who unintentionally hurt grieving people - the thoughtless and the over-thinkers.  Neither one of these groups are trying to hurt others, but if I can shine just a bit of light into the world of grief to help these two groups see their way, that is what I will try to do with this post.

1.  Not being there – You may think grieving people don’t notice who writes, who comes to the funeral, who calls, who helps out, but they do.  With stark clarity.  You may feel completely inadequate to truly “be there”, but not being there at all is not the answer.  If you can come to the funeral, come.  If you can come to the house, come.  Set aside your fears of inadequacy and just do something.  I know it’s hard.  I’ve been on both sides of this.  It is never an easy thing, but it is a necessary thing.

2.  Saying “it was for the best”, “she’s in a better place”, or any variation thereof – That hurts.  If you think about for just a bit, you will hopefully hear how those words could hurt a grieving person.  I am without my daughter, and even though I know God’s perfect will is perfect, I don’t want to be told right now that my child being anywhere else is better for her.  Now is not the time.

And never, ever tell me that had she grown up, she might have turned away from the Lord and brought us all sorts of sadness.  And never, ever tell me I’m young enough to have more children.  You might believe these comments help you to make sense of what feels like a senseless loss, or help me feel like I can move on, but instead it ends up feeling utterly dishonoring to the memory of my child.

3.  Trying to find someone to blame – No grieving person needs to be subjected to a rant by someone else.  In my mind, blaming someone for whatever has happened, is a rant.  Don’t give me a laundry list of everyone who is at fault for this tragedy, just let me grieve without having to filter your anger and blame too.  You can read more about how people naturally look to blame others in a tragedy.

4.  Putting grief in a box – We all grieve differently.  I prefer to grieve alone.  Some people prefer to grieve loudly.  Some need to say what they need to say and move on…until the next time.  And yes, some people seem to grieve forever.  Whatever you do, don’t try to put someone else’s grief in a box and give them timelines and rules for grieving.  Remember with them.  Give them hope for a future.  But don’t have expectations.

5.  Not acknowledging their loss – Sometimes in our uncomfortableness, we avoid topics that we are afraid of.  We brush over dates and names.  We steer conversations away from anything that might remind our grieving friend or family member of their loss.  We try to soften the pain by never acknowledging the pain.  Stop doing that.  Please, speak my child’s name.  Please, remember the 4th of July as her birthday and February as the month she passed away (you don’t have to remember the exact date, I’m ok with that.)  When you pretend like nothing happened, you hurt me far worse than if you acknowledge my daughter’s death by including her in my life.

6.  Making this about you – We want to relate.  Its natural.  But, unless you have a VERY similar story or are asked to tell your story, avoid it.  In those early days, grieving people can only handle their own grief, and they are barely doing that.  Don’t heap your grief on them and don’t try to compare your grief to theirs.

In my post on helping a grieving friend, I mention how losing your dog, your grandma, or even your parent is not the same as losing a child.  And the reverse is true.  Let the grieving person grieve their own loss without needing to filter through yours.

Additionally, don’t tell a grieving person how you “almost” lost a child or “almost” lost a parent.  There was a long period of time where I struggled with being around people who had almost lost children, but hadn’t.  They made me angry.  I know, that’s an ugly truth, but truth nonetheless.  Almost and Did are nowhere near the same.

7.  Never being normal around them again – This may sound odd considering I just said that not acknowledging their loss is hurtful too.  However, you CAN be normal AND acknowledge their loss at the same time.  Don’t assume I don’t want to go out for a meal or ice cream because I’m grieving.  Don’t assume I don’t want to take a walk or take the kids to the park.  In the early days, it is hard to do things without your loved one, but I needed life to move forward too.  I needed to be treated normal, and not like a scary disease.  I needed friends who would come over, not because I might need to talk, but because they just wanted to spend time with me whether I talked or not.

Grieving people need to be reminded that they are human.  They need to be slowly coaxed back into the land of the living.  They need to slowly return to joy.  But, they desperately want to avoid leaving their loved one behind as they make that return.  You can help be that balance for them by speaking memories and hope in their life one day at a time.

Grief is hard.  And at some point, you are going to flub up.  If you flub up because you were thoughtless – say so and apologize!  If you flub up because you were over thinking – say so and apologize!  I can almost guarantee you will be forgiven because if there is one thing grieving people appreciate more than anything, it is the acknowledgement that NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS EASY.

For our story and more help for those who grieve and the friends of those who grieve, visit my Grieving Mother page.

Learning to Love Every Age and Stage

Learning to Love Every Age and Stage | RaisingArrows.netWe have a wide range of ages in our household – all the way from little bitty to nearly grown.  It’s a lot to keep up with, but I enjoy it so much!  However, I remember a time when this wasn’t the case.  I remember when I didn’t relish every moment because I didn’t know I was missing anything.  And even if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have known how to change it.

Then I reconnected with a childhood friend who was very vocal about loving her children.  She loved them “out loud.”  She told me she would memorize their little faces as they nursed because she didn’t want to miss a moment.  And I was in awe.

It had never occurred to me to enjoy my children right where they were.  I was always too busy trying to get them to the next stage.

Learning to Love Every Age & Every Stage |

So many mamas are rushing through their children’s childhoods. Some are excited for the future. Some are weary of the present.  Some know they should slow down.  Some never give it a thought and just keep plodding away.  Most are a mixture of all of these, and far too many of us are “missing the moments.”

Enjoy Every Age and Stage |

Baby Creed is 14 months old.  Every day I wake up and stare at him and realize he is growing up before my eyes, and if I don’t enjoy the very age he is right now, I will never have that chance again.

I am thankful the Lord brought someone {back} into my life who truly loved her children and showed me by example how to make memories with my children before I found myself with only memories to hold on to.

You may never know the pain and emptiness of losing a child, but if you do not grab hold of the age and stage your children are right this very minute, there will come a day when they will be gone in the figurative sense, and you will wonder why you didn’t savor their growing up years.

Learning to Love Every Age & Stage |

There isn’t some magical formula to loving your children right where they are.  It is more a careful and purposeful slowing down to gain perspective.  It is a hug, a kiss, a smile, a listening ear.  It is taking photos and videos – even if they are on a cell phone.  It is keeping a journal with them or sharing a Special Night.  It is being a student of your child, learning more about them every day.  It is thinking before you speak, and loving more than you lecture.  It is speaking out loud just how blessed you are.  It is looking for the good in every age and stage, rather than dwelling on the bad.

It is realizing they do grow up, faster than you would ever imagine.

Large Family Homeschooling eBook | by Amy Roberts of

Homeschool Convention Time! {Welcome Home Wednesday}

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014

Tomorrow morning, I hop a plane to Nashville for our first homeschool convention of the season! I am so excited! I always get giddy when it comes to homeschool conferences because it means refreshment and refocusing for me.  From the moment I attended my first homeschool convention back in 2002, I’ve been hooked!
{affiliate links included}

Over the years, Ty and I have attended many different conventions.  They each have their own flavor.  Teach Them Diligently has quickly become a favorite of mine because of its focus on families.  It’s not just about academics, and as a veteran homeschool mom, I appreciate that.  I need encouragement that goes far beyond the rigors of textbooks and spelling lessons.  This Nashville weekend is going to be a breath of fresh air!

I am also presenting 3 sessions of my own in Nashville!

Creating a Peaceful Home
Your Perfect Schedule
Large Family Homeschooling – based on my soon-to-be released ebook by the same name!

Large Family Homeschooling eBook releases April 1! |

I will be offering these same sessions in Dallas later in the summer.  If you are attending either conference, be sure to look me up!  I love meeting readers!

I also want to give you a FREE gift to help you plan and prepare for a homeschool conference.  They can be overwhelming and a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant.  I’ve compiled some posts I’ve written on attending homeschool conventions into a small ebook you can download by clicking on the icon below:

FREE Homeschool Convention Survival Guide |

I also want to note that in last week’s link up, Amy from Plain and not so plain offered a FREE Kindergarten & First Grade Curriculum, and Jennifer from A Heart for the Home gave some wonderful tips for How to Handle Homeschool Burnout.

The #1 clicked post from last week was from MamaGab, and yes, it was about babies – or rather No More Babies.  I ended up pinning this post to my Grieving Mother Pinterest Board because while Gabby’s fears did not stem from losing a child, her words echoed many of the same words in my own heart.  These are fears any mother who has had a traumatic experience must some day face.  A worthwhile read.

Now, it’s your turn! Link up as many as 3 posts from your blog and enjoy the other links left here!  {If reading via email, please click over to see the links and leave yours!}

Welcome Home Wednesdays
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Christmas Without Emmy

Emily Christmas DayEmily’s first and only Christmas was 6 years ago.

Not a Christmas goes by that we don’t think of her, celebrate and grieve at the same time.  Her stocking is still hung with the others, in between her two brothers€¦a gap only we see.  Her ornaments still bedeck the tree, some celebrating her life, some commemorating her death.

From the photo above, taken on Christmas Day 2007, you can still see how swollen little Emily is from the IV fluids.  The hospital tag is still on the carseat because we had only brought her home the night before.  My sister had taken my children shopping for gifts and my sweet Megan, only 7 at the time, had chosen the bear.  The quilt was given to us by the Pediatric nurse who cared for Emmy during all her hospital stays; the nurse who 7 weeks later came to a funeral none of us were ready for.  The bibs are a typical 1st Christmas present in our home; the same present little Creed is receiving this year for his 1st Christmas.  Emmy, in her usual contentedness, sucks her thumb.  There have been no thumb-suckers since..a fact which saddens me.  My children ask for another sister for Christmas.  every. year.  The Lord has not seen fit to grant their wish€¦nor mine.  My little boys hugs my leg and kiss my cheek and I tell myself it doesn’t matter because I would not trade any of them.

but Lord€¦perhaps€¦some day?

Christmas is a celebration of birth, but as a grieving mother, I see the death that is coming€¦and the HOPE that will follow.  All my longings hinge on a promise, the promise that starts here.

So, while I’ve talked specifics of what holidays are like without a loved one, without a promise and the hope of that promise being fulfilled, we are missing the Truth of our circumstances.  Do I hurt?  Yes.  Do I miss her with all my being?  Yes.  Do I write these words through tears?  Yes.  But next week I will celebrate the Promise.  I will cling to the Hope.  I will walk in Truth.

And some day€¦yes, some day…


Scripture Lullabies ~ peaceful music for the entire family

Scriptures Lullabies ~ the peaceful music I was looking for {review & giveaway} |

{Disclosure:  I knew from the moment I listened to the preview tracks of “Hidden in My Heart” Volume I & II that I wanted to review and giveaway a set of these Scripture Lullabies here on Raising Arrows.  I received a free set of CDs and was compensated for my time to write this post.  The opinions are most definitely my own.}

I had been looking for Scipture-based music to play at night for my little ones. Unfortunately, many of the Bible lullabies I have run across lean toward the corny side, with tinny voices and digitized music that sounds digitized.  I wanted music that offered Scripture in a beautiful and soothing way.  I wanted something peaceful that could be played all day long.  I wanted something that wasn’t just for children, but for the entire family.  {Little did I know just how important “Hidden in my Heart” Scripture Lullabies would become to me as a mom€¦read on…}

Scripture Lullabies volume I & II {review & giveaway from}

Soothing Scripture Lullabies for Baby

I love to turn on these lullabies as I rock my babies.  I cannot help but think how the music is washing over them with the Word of God as they close their little eyes and relax from a hard day of play.

At that time Jesus declared, €œI thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children
Matthew 11:25

Scripture Lullabies for baby & mama |

Peaceful Scripture Music for Mommy

Sometimes my mind wanders at night.  I tend to struggle with fear as evening approaches. Losing a child has made me acutely aware of death and sickness and sometimes these thoughts nearly consume me.

One night recently, I felt these fears begin to creep back in.  I remembered I had downloaded the bonus tracks from the Scripture Lullabies website, so I laid down in bed and opened my laptop and turned the music on beside me.

If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Proverbs 3:24

The fears subsided and sweet rest overtook me.  Oh, how grateful I was to have this music.  Now, these Scripture Lullabies are the first thing I go to at night when I start to feel fearful.  I fall asleep listening to God’s Word.

Beautiful Scripture Music for the Entire Family

I want God’s Word to be a part of my every day life.  I want it to be the thread that holds my day together.  I want my family to be steeped in Scripture every waking moment.  Sometimes I’ll start our day with a Scripture Lullabies CD.  Sometimes I’ll put one on in the afternoon for Rest Time.  Sometimes we’ll end our day with it.

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

In my book 10 Days to a Peaceful Home, I talk about our Family Worship Time every night.  We love to have music be a part of our evenings and the Hidden in My Heart CDs and MP3s are perfect for bringing the day to a close.

Fall asleep to Scripture Lullabies {review and giveaway from}

Bless a new mom, a family of new believers, or your own family this Christmas season with the peace of God’s Word!  They will cherish this gift!

You can purchase these Scripture Lullabies through their website.  Use this coupon:

to receive 15% off
(expires 12/31/13)

The money from every 10th CD sold is donated to a pregnancy resource center!

Take a moment to listen to some of the tracks HERE or watch the video below for a taste of just how beautiful this music is.

And be sure and watch for the release of Volume III – Hidden in My Heart:  A Lullaby Journey Through the Life of Jesus COMING SOON!

Today, I am pleased to have the opportunity to give away a “Hidden in my Heart” CD or MP3 download to 2 readers!  If you win, you will get to choose which album you want and whether you want the CD or the download. (email readers CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Selfish Side of Grief

The Selfish Side of Grief |

It almost sounds heartless for me to say grieving people can often be selfish people.  In fact, we almost EXPECT grieving people to be selfish.  Something terrible has happened to them.  They should be allowed to walk around in their own little world, thinking only of their own grief and pain.  I even said in my post on How to Help Someone Who Grieves, that you need to let them grieve because all too often people on the outside just want the person experiencing the tragedy to get on with it.  A few weeks or months (or even days ) after a death, people on the outside forget and their lives go on as normal; whereas, those experiencing the tragedy have to find a new normal based on their new circumstances.

For instance, I had to relearn how to get up in the morning, how to cook for my family (now minus one child), how to care about anything other than my daughter’s death.  But, I never expected to have to learn how to not be selfish in my grief.

You see, when Emily died, I never wanted to want again.  I had lost my daughter and I had to go on living here on earth without her.  I felt deprived of her presence.  I felt I had lost enough.  I never wanted to feel any kind of deprivation again.  So, I started filling the void.

I bought fabric.  Every time I saw fabric on sale and it was even semi-cute or something I thought I might use one day, I bought it.

I went to thrift stores.  I brought home all sorts of things we didn’t need.  I nickel and dimed our family week after week.

I ate too much.  Any time I wanted to go out to eat, I begged my husband to take me.  I bought coffees, ordered appetizers, brought home more groceries than we could eat, and cooked and baked my way up the scale.

I know many people touched by tragedy who have eventually gone bankrupt.  I know people who have gained a tremendous amount of weight.  I know people who have hoarded their lives into oblivion because of grief.  All because the kind of self-control it takes to avoid this behavior feels too much like letting go of something you love.  But at the root of this is selfishness…a selfishness that will tear a house down to the ground…marriage, family, and all.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 has become my prayer for my life and my blog, especially any time I blog about grief.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

But before I could get to this place, I had to learn to think outside myself.  I am still seeing nearly 6 years later, selfishness that stems from never wanting to want again.

As you walk through the murky waters of grief, you have to be willing to ask the hard questions.  You have to be willing to ask the Lord to reveal your own selfishness to you and help you through the process of rooting it out.  And as you root it out, you have to consciously think of others and how you can offer them the same grace, comfort and peace you have been offered.

All too often the selfishness we have to deal with as we grieve ends up directly affecting our marriages.  The walls we build to keep from feeling the want are walls that ultimately keep our husbands out as well.

I lost a dream.  I dreamed of a beautiful little girl with curly brown locks running after her siblings, sitting down to do school work at our table, walking down the aisle.  My husband lost the same little girl, the same dreams.  And even when our grief doesn’t look the same, I know he’s hurting too.  I don’t get to selfishly act as if I’m the only one grieving.  I don’t get to tear my house down or rip my marriage apart.  And being aware of this is half the battle.

Today, I’m posting at Yes, They’re All Ours on the topic of Marriage & Losing a Child.  It’s tough when a marriage is faced with something of this magnitude, but it isn’t impossible.  Cling to each other so that as you heal, you heal together…one wound, one scar, one flesh.

Please visit my Grieving Mother page for our story and more articles on grief and healing.